Thursday, 14 January 2010
First Pieces Using Bronzclay
At last my first pieces of jewellery made from Bronzclay are fired, photographed and ready to list in my Folksy shop. Let me tell you how I made them.
The amount of Bronzclay I bought was smaller than I'd expected, so I decided to slab roll it as thinly as possible using a kitchen rolling pin. I found the clay very sticky and was advised to cover my hands, work surfaces and equipment with olive oil, which worked well at stopping any sticking from occuring. Once rolled to the thickness I needed, I set about handcutting the bases of each piece as well as the smaller pieces to be used for decoration. The advantage of having the pieces covered in olive oil is that they are easy to move into the right position. I scored the bases and small pieces as well as moistening both surfaces with water ( using slip is recommended as with normal clay but I usually end up spitting on it instead!)and pressed them together to form a good join. Once leather hard, I smoothed the edges, this being made more difficult by the thinness of the clay which now felt fragile. After drying for several days I placed them on a layer of charcoal beads with another 1" layer to cover them, inside an aluminium container with lid. The pieces were then fired in an electric kiln to 850C for a total of 5 hours, ramping up the heat by 33% each hour, followed by a soak of 2 hours. Once cooled I used a soft wire brush to remove the filth and buffed with a soft cloth, then superglued the jewellery findings (brooch backs and stud pins) and they were done.
The difference between this medium before and after firing is incredible. The colour is beautiful and rather similar to the tone of antique gold, and enhanced by the charcoal, giving the bronze a slightly aged look.